CIBC Run for the Cure: Shazam! Cancer ripped off life’s blindfold
Sandy Wood had been popping by the radiologist’s office every so often since her biopsy had been sent off.
As a member of Royal Inland Hospital’s diagnostic imaging department, it was as easy as popping into a co-worker’s office at the end of a long shift.
Wood had found the lump after having some pain in her shoulder. The general consensus was it was probably a cyst, but better to be safe than sorry.
In the days she had been waiting for the results, her lump had developed a nickname.
“It was a little bit of a joke,” Wood recalls.
“I was calling it my ‘third eye.’”
So, on Oct. 7, 2006 — her birthday — she ducked into the office of a close friend in the radiology department at the end of a long shift to ask again about the third eye.
“It was probably the first time in my life where nobody had to say anything,” she says.
“Because it was just the look on his face and I knew that I was in trouble.”
When she left the office, she made it about 15 feet down the hall before ducking into her boss’s office to cry.
“I cried and cried and she cried with me,” Wood says. “And, then I went to my car and sat in the parking lot of the hospital and it was just so surreal. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Wood had an aggressive form of breast cancer, which had metastasized into her lymph nodes.
But, as she sat in her car, she knew the disease wasn’t going to beat her.
Beating it, however, was going to require some changes.
“It’s like you have a blindfold on when you’re going through your life and, then, all of a sudden, someone pulls it off and goes, ‘Shazam! How do you like that?’” she says.
Wood describes her life at the time of her diagnosis as chaotic.
Weighing about 300 pounds at the time, she suffered from low self-esteem and had a raft of relationship, family, financial, spiritual and substance problems.
“It’s a big card,” she says of the cancer diagnosis.
“And, it means you’ve probably got more than a couple things you need to work on.
“That’s how I look at it anyway.
“If you’ve got big problems, you get a big card. And, all of a sudden, I could see it all and I couldn’t believe it,” Wood says.
It was time for a change.
She started by giving up smoking — and coffee, which had always gone along with cigarettes.
Next, she gave up dairy and started hiking out at Tranquille Creek.
The weight started to come off. Her self-esteem began to improve.
During the same period, Wood underwent surgery, more than a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Because her cancer was estrogen-positive — the hormone can promote the growth of the cancer — she started hormonal therapy.
When she discovered she was allergic to the drug, Wood had more surgery, this time to remove her ovaries.
“It was hard. I cried. It was miserable, painful, horrendous. It was emotionally gut-wrenching,” she says.
But, at the same time, her relationships with friends and co-workers were improving, she was feeling comfortable in her own skin, learning to make healthier choices and she’d finally gotten in touch with her spiritual side.
“Things just started to change and I could feel it. It was very powerful,” she says.
Earlier this year, Wood decided that it was time to start giving back.
She joined the organizing committee for the Kamloops Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure — and she is full of praise for the other women involved in the event.
“The people are amazing, they’re absolutely amazing,” she says. “It’s incredible the amount of contribution that goes on there.”
But, while she would love to see a world without breast cancer — or any other form of the disease — Wood wouldn’t trade her own diagnosis for anything.
“When I look back, I’m so grateful,” she says.
“I can honestly say that breast cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
You can still register for Run for the Cure
This year’s Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure takes place on Sunday, Sept. 30, at the Rotary Bandshell in Riverside Park.
Participants can run or walk a one- or five-kilometre course.
Registration is still open.
Individual runners can sign up today (Sept. 27) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Friday, Sept. 28, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Running Room in the Columbia Place Shopping Centre on Summit Drive.
Pre-registered teams can also drop by The Running Room between those hours to pick up their T-shirts.
Day-of registration and donation drop-offs begin at 9 a.m. in Riverside Park.
The opening ceremony begins at 10 a.m., with runners taking off at 10:30 a.m.
Last year, the Kamloops event brought out more than 1,300 participants, running in groups or as individuals, who raised more than $189,000.
Nationally, the run raised more than $30 million in 2011 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, which funds research, education and awareness programs and works to improve the quality of life of people diagnosed with breast cancer.
According to the foundation, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in Canadian women, accounting for 26 per cent of all cases.
One in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and one in 29 will die of it. In 2012, an estimated 200 men will also be diagnosed with the disease.
6:30 a.m.: Set-up Crew arrives (coffee will be available starting around 7:30 a.m.)
8:30 a,m,: Registration opens
9 a.m.: Entertainment, Black Dog Blue
9:45 a.m.: Vince Watson sings Clint Black ( Put Yourself in My Shoes)
9:50 a.m.: Allana Watson sings Tribute Song (I’ll Always Love You)
10 a.m.: Opening ceremony, O Canada, Miss Kamloops & Princesses, guest speakers (CBCF, Susan Ewanick; CIBC, Rick Sallis; TIB Chief Shane Gottfriedson; Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar)
10:20 a.m.: Warm-up by Vergel Jolie, sponsored by Get Cracking!
10:30 a.m.: Run begins
10:35 a.m.: Entertainment, Devon Coyote; Domino’s tent open to Volunteers; all festivities open to participants and volunteers
11:30 a.m.: Closing ceremony begins; Survivor Speech, Sandy Wood
11:34 a.m.: Rick Jenker from the Running Room introduces Survivor Parade
11:45 a.m.: Closing ceremony and awards presentations
12:05 p.m.: Announcement of final draws
12:15 p.m.: Run day totals announced
12:20 p.m.: Clean-up begins
The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is the largest single-day, volunteer-led national event in Canada in support of breast cancer. Kamloops joins 58 other communities across the country raising funds for breast cancer research, education and awareness programs.